Monday, 9 March 2009


Jewish Carnival time proposes a pastry baking opportunity I cannot miss, as any excuse will do. Roughly coinciding with the Christian carnival, this holiday is suspiciously similar, with the consumption of fried, sweet food, frivolous behavior and dressing up justified and encouraged.
I'm just participating in the baking as one carnival a year is my quota so I made the traditional Hamantaschen, with a twist.
I know these are meant to be eaten once a year, but really there's no reason not to have them all year round. In essence, this is sweet pastry dough (pâte sablée ) filled, shaped and baked.
Regarding their shape- well, that’s tradition for you.

(Makes about 40)

For the dough
200g cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
2 cups of white flour
1/2 Tsp Baking powder
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1Tsp vanilla extract
1/4 Tsp salt
Half the orange zest taken from one orange, chopped finely
75ml milk

For the filling
A handful of lightly roasted almonds, chopped
A handful of lightly roasted walnuts, chopped
A handful of raisins, chopped
1/2 roasted coconut flakes
A handful of crushed Amaretti cookies
2 pieces of candied ginger, chopped
1 Tsp Cinnamon
Remaining half of orange zest taken, chopped finely
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
10g butter

To serve with
Icing sugar

Whether you're working with a food processor or by hand the key is to handle the dough as little as possible, or it will be hard once baked.
Mix the diced butter, flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and orange zest until you get a coarse sand mixture. Add the milk and mix just until it forms a ball.
Form dough to a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

The filling
In a bowl mix the almonds, walnuts, raisins, coconut flakes, crushed Amaretti cookies, candied ginger, Cinnamon and orange zest.
Bring the milk, sugar and butter to a simmer.
Allow to cool slightly before adding to the dry mixture. you should have a moist, fragrant, chunky filling .

Heat the oven to 180°C.
Cut half of the dough in half. Replace one half in the fridge.
Roll the dough on a clean floured surface until it is about 3mm thick.
Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut the dough into 10cm diameter circles.
Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre. Fold the dough by pinching it firmly in three points to form a triangular shape. Make sure the pastry covers the filling, leaving only a small window as the dough expands during baking revealing the filling.
Give the end points a little twist to ensure they stay closed during baking.
Bake in a tin lined with parchment paper until golden, about 15 minutes.
Repeat these guidelines for the remaining dough in the fridge.
Allow to cool.
Lightly dust with icing sugar.
Keep in an airtight container.

Feel free to experiment with the shape as well as the filling options.
The recipe proved versatile; I crushed a batch to make streusel sprinkled on top of a chopped granny smith apple for a quick apple crumble. this made my palette very happy.

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